Sarah Jane Smith is a fictional character played by Elisabeth Sladen in the long-running British BBC Television science-fiction series Doctor Who and its spin-offs K-9 and Company and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
An investigative journalist, Sarah Jane is a regular companion of the Third and Fourth incarnations of the Doctor, on the programme from 1973 to 1976 (seasons 11 – 14), and returns in the Fifth Doctor story "The Five Doctors" (1983), the 30th-anniversary story Dimensions In Time (1993), and most recently in the episodes "School Reunion" (2006), "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" (2008) and "The End of Time" (2010) alongside the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, and other companions of his era.
One of the Doctor's longest serving companions, she appears as a regular in 18 stories over four seasons of the classic series and four episodes of the revived series, and is the first companion to appear in a spin-off, the 1981 television pilot K-9 and Company. She is the central character of the ongoing series The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Sarah Jane first appears in the Third Doctor serial The Time Warrior (1973), where she has managed to infiltrate a top secret research facility by posing as her aunt, Lavinia Smith, a famous virologist. Sarah Jane is introduced as an ardent feminist, Sarah Jane sneaks aboard the TARDIS and becomes embroiled in a battle against the militaristic alien Sontaran in the Middle Ages. Subsequently, she accompanies the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) on several journies in the TARDIS, and she also assists the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) on a number of occasions. Sladen alongside Pertwee and remains following Season 11 finale Planet of the Spiders (1974), in which the Doctor regenerates for the third time. In season 12's consecutive 1975 serials The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks and Revenge of the Cybermen, Sarah and male companion Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) face against the series' three iconic recurring creatures, the Sontarans, hateful alien Dalek and the calculating cyborg Cybermen. In Genesis, Sarah is present at the creation of the Daleks, and meets their creator Davros (Michael Wisher). Sarah Jane departs in the Season 14 serial The Hand of Fear (1976) after the Doctor receives a summons to his home planet of Gallifrey. With regards to her characterisation in this period, Sladen described Sarah as "a bit of a cardboard cut-out. Each week it used to be, 'Yes Doctor, no Doctor'..." The character's tenure alongside Baker, the long-time "favourite Doctor" in the series, earned her a similar accolade of being "the favourite companion" amongst fans.
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